Ina Garten's Undercooking Tip For Incredibly Moist Chicken

For the home cook, cooking moist poultry might be one of the most elusive skills in the kitchen. Just making one of the many crucial mistakes everyone makes when cooking chicken can lead to a tough, rubbery cutlet. While this has led many people to give up on chicken breast entirely and instead opt for more lenient cuts of dark meat such as the thigh or drumstick, you actually don't need to become a culinary expert to avoid this issue. In fact, the world-renowned chef Ina Garten has a simple trick that guarantees perfectly juicy chicken, and it involves removing your food from the stovetop or oven a little earlier than usual.

On her Instagram, the Barefoot Contessa recommends bringing the chicken away from the heat source once its internal temperature hits around 155-160 degrees Fahrenheit. From there, carefully but promptly wrap the meat in tin foil on the baking sheet or pan that it cooked in, and let it rest for approximately 10 minutes. This will insulate your food and allow it to continue climbing up to 165 degrees, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture states is the safest for poultry.

Resting your chicken in foil does more than get it up to temperature

Garten doesn't just take her chicken out early to get it right at temperature. According to the Barefoot Contessa, allowing meat to rest for a few minutes after cooking allows for its juices to soak back into the food. As the meat sits out for a few minutes before slicing, its protein has time to relax. Cooking causes it to become tight, but that rest period lets it loosen up and reabsorb its juices, so they don't run out when you cut into it. This also results in a more tender cut of meat during serving.

While many people know that skipping on resting will result in the moisture of your poultry pooling out onto the plate once cut, not every cook follows Garten's tip of wrapping the chicken in aluminum foil. The effects of wrapping are minute but important, as meat under foil cools at a slightly slower rate than when exposed. Since you'll be using this residual heat to finish cooking the chicken, you'll want its warmth to linger for a little longer, so follow the Barefoot Contessa's advice and wrap your food as you rest it.

Other ways to keep chicken juicy during cooking

Another one of Ina Garten's secrets for incredibly juicy chicken relies on leaving the skin on during cooking. Many of her published recipes keep it on to create a crunchy exterior, and her undercooking tip on Instagram is no exception. But retaining the skin on a piece of chicken does more than just create some delectable textural contrast in your food. It actually creates a barrier between the flesh and your hot pan, keeping more of the flavorful fat and natural liquid inside during cooking.

Before your chicken hits the heat, try to brine or marinade it in your sauce or spice mix of choice as well. This will not only tenderize the flesh but infuse the meat with tasty seasonings and aromatics thanks to the hearty amount of spices sprinkled throughout.

Following these tips should prevent you from making a dry piece of chicken, but if you still happen to end up with less-than-favorable results, a sauce can mask some of the dry, overcooked textures in your food. It won't be a panacea for the issue, however, so keep an eye on the temperature of your poultry and follow the Barefoot Contessa's advice.